Moving on

By Kamran Shafi

So then, the great drama thought up by our brilliant strategists, both military and civil, to go-for-broke on the US apology for Salala/opening of the truck routes into Afghanistan has fallen flat on its face as predicted by many beyghairats such as yours truly. Elementary it was, but as usual missed the great intellect of our  ‘leaders’.

How in the world it was thought that the United States upon which we depend for our daily bread so to say, let alone those lovely toys for the boys: the F-16s, helicopter gunships and all; and those lovely $$$s, would grovel before its own gofer. Just to open the land routes into Afghanistan?

And there they were, the Ghairat Brigades and their frontmen, loud TV  ‘anchors’ totting up how many more billions the Americans were going to have to pay out because of our blockade, adding the spice of ghairat’ and sovereignty and the people’s  ‘will’. Never did the thought cross their little minds that for a superpower like the US which had already spent something like $1.4 trillion on this war on terror and counting the additional expense of using the northern route would be a trifling matter for the time it would take them to sort us out.

It is not for the first time that we have been at the short end of the American stick: it’s happened often enough for us to have learnt our lesson but such is the arrogance, or shall we call it, simply, the thick-headedness of those that call the shots, that we find ourselves standing embarrassed in front of the world yet again, murmuring: “It’s not only the Americans, there are 50 countries of Nato involved… we’ll get side-lined by the whole world, whimper, whimper …”.

Why, pray, did the strategists not think of this when they went ballistic over Salala, actually orchestrating a media campaign against the Americans in the ghairatmand press (what I call our raucous channels) just as they did over the Kerry-Lugar Bill? This campaign was just as fake, for, I will never tire of reminding my readers: exactly 10 days after issuing a most rude, nay rebellious press statement on the K-L Bill, the Sipah Salaar-i-Azam asked General Petraeus for more helicopter gunships!

This is what I tweeted on May 11, 2012: “Now that the Americans are serious about kicking butt, what bets that Nato/Isaf supplies will be running inside a month??!! The security establishment simply cannot do without those scrumptious $s and those weapons of war and spares. The rest is lies.” Was I wrong, reader?

The last straw was when the Nato chief himself (please note) pointedly said Pakistan would not be invited to the summit on Afghanistan in Chicago if the routes didn’t open. Abracadabra, the anchors went into turbo-charged overdrive extolling the good that would come from Pakistan attending the Chicago summit. Possessing very selective memories they had forgotten how they defended Pakistan’s ‘ghairatmand’ decision of boycotting the Bonn conferencewhich very soon proved to be a very stupid idea indeed as I said in this space on Dec 8, 2011, predicated as it was only on misplaced ‘ghairat’ and nothing else. (Note that Pervez Hoodbhoy’s brilliant piece that has been ‘intellectualised’ beyond belief was pointing to just such destructive-to-ourselves ghairatmand actions).

But enough of all that. Pakistan is today facing a truly existential crisis. And while you have heard this ‘existential’ thingy many times before, this time around crunch time is upon us with great vehemence. Let us recognise that whilst our record was always bad, this latest caper has turned most of the world against us. Indeed, go to any country in the world with your green passport, even among theUmmah(!), and see the looks of horror on the border agents faces.

There is hardly any time left to us, friends: we must change course immediately. Let all the stakeholders pull together: The Deep State which is the preponderant power in the land, the political parties, and lay people, all of us must pull together recognising that a few more missteps such as the recent one and we are done for. And economic sanctions would be the least of our worries.

So, how to go about this project of reconciliation? First off, the Deep State must climb off its not-so-high-horse and honestly civilise itself. It must realise that it is nothing without the people’s support, and that if it gives up its heavy-handed ways like disappearing people whose decomposed bodies are then found on the roadsides; if it stops kidnapping and brutalising journalists such as young Umar Cheema, the people will be with it heart and soul. For, after all, it is ours.

We must cease living in the past; we must move on for only there lies salvation. It breaks my heart to see the PPP and the PML-N go head to head all over again, making one relive the late-eighties and nineties when others took advantage of this enmity between the two major parties and threw them out one after the other, repeatedly.

Let me say to President Asif Zardari and to Mr Nawaz Sharif: Please sirs, the country is in an extremely difficult situation. Do something before it is too late. Together gather all the stakeholders of Project Pakistan, yes, including the (hopefully reformed) commanders of the Deep State, and the leaders of all the political parties under one roof and discuss a way out of the dangerous waters in which we find ourselves. Set up, even now, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and get this country together. Pakistan has many fine men and women who will do the right thing, even in these dire straits.

This is now an imperative and there is no time to lose.

P.S. And please, sirs, tell your friends in the ‘ghairatmand’ media not to shovel all of the blame on to the ‘bloody civilians’ for we well know how decisions such as closing/opening the routes into Afghanistan are taken!

The Express Tribune